As state actors, such as the United States, the UK, and the United Nations, urge Ethiopia and Somalia to resolve their differences over the port deal offered to Ethiopia by Somaliland, Egypt appears to be exacerbating tensions, paving the way for the conflict to morph into a military confrontation. Egypt invited Somalian President Hassan Sheik to Cairo to discuss how to “coordinate responses” to the developments in the region. However, the post-discussion speech on “coordination” sounded bellicose. Egyptian President El-Sisi declared, “Egypt will not allow anyone to threaten Somalia or jeopardize its security.”
Somaliland, with whom Ethiopia entered into an MoU agreement, does not seem to appreciate Egypt’s position. In a statement released on Monday opposing what it called “foreign interference,” Somaliland said, “In light of the recent developments, we would like to reiterate Somaliland’s unwavering commitment to resolving regional matters through dialogue and cooperation. Nevertheless, given the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Republic of Somaliland and Ethiopia, we want to reaffirm our firm opposition to any external interference.”
While acknowledging diplomatic engagements, Somaliland urged parties with an interest in developments in the region “to focus on promoting regional stability and constructive partnerships,” a stance that appears to differ from Egypt’s objectives.
The government of Somaliland also explained why it supports cooperation in the region. “We believe that fostering cooperation will significantly improve the overall stability of the region and pave the way for a more prosperous future, thereby benefiting the well-being of our interconnected communities,” stated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Somaliland, as it refers to itself. Somalia considers Somaliland as Northern Somalia, while the latter has existed as a de facto state for more than thirty years now.
There were reports from local sources that part of Abiy Ahmed’s motives in signing the MoU with Somaliland was to diffuse tension locally as resistance to his troops got stronger in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. The MoU signed with Somaliland did not improve the domestic crisis; in fact, many opposed it on grounds that it would bring conflict to the region and that Ethiopia is not in a position to engage in another war. Among other factors, the legitimacy crisis he faces due to domestic policies, including the conflict in the Amhara region of Ethiopia where hundreds of civilians have been killed, contributed to this widespread opposition. However, Egypt’s persistent hostility towards Ethiopia and its apparent intention to exploit Somalia in a move to weaken Ethiopia, encouraging what seems like a military solution, could alter this situation. On Monday, Abiy Ahmed’s party announced a meeting on key national issues and party agendas, the details of which have not been made public.
Join the conversation. Follow us on twitter @zborkena to get the latest Ethiopian News updates regularly. Subscribe to YouTube channel To share information or for submission, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org